Antibiotics are arguably one of the most important developments in modern medicine. Diseases that used to kill millions of people are now easily defeated with medication such as antibiotics. However, the increased use of antibiotics has driven a new epidemic of antibiotic resistance. Read on to see what it is and ways you can help limit its spread.
What is Antibiotic Resistance?
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria and fungi can resist the medication meant to kill them. Because of repeated exposure, these organisms have mutated and are less effective against certain bacteria. They continue to grow even when given antibiotics specifically designed to kill them. That makes these types of infections challenging to treat. In some cases, they can be impossible to treat.
Antibiotic resistance has become a significant problem. According to the CDC, over 2.8 million people in the U.S. are infected with strains of antibiotic-resistant germs each year.
How to Protect Yourself
While it's impossible to avoid strains of antibiotic-resistance germs completely, there are some ways to reduce the spread:
- Only use antibiotics when prescribed by a medical professional.
- Don't share or use leftover antibiotics.
- Do not demand antibiotics if a medical professional has deemed it unnecessary.
- Follow the instructions of your healthcare provider when taking antibiotics.
- Prevent infections with regular hand washing, mask-wearing, and avoiding close contact with those who are sick.
- Hygienically prepare food and avoid food that uses antibiotics for disease prevention or growth promotion in healthy animals.
- Complete your entire prescription of antibiotics. Do not stop taking them when you feel better. You must complete the entire treatment.
There are currently new antibiotics in development that are meant to address resistance. However, they will likely be unable to fight the most dangerous antibiotic-resistant germs. Be proactive by taking antibiotic use seriously and protecting yourself from infection.
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